Voldemort meets Shakespeare!

I have been looking forward to reviewing this trailer for the month or so since I saw it.  This trailer captivated me with it’s bizarre mix of old world, Shakespearian story structure and modern context and visual style. Ralph Fiennes (pronounced “Raif Fines”) directs and stars in what I am sure will be my summer read:  Coriolanus – Based on the play by William Shakespeare.

First and foremost, I have to clarify that I have NOT read this play.  Like most of you I imagine, I had not even known of the existence of this work until I saw this trailer.  So I am coming into reviewing this trailer based solely on the visual narrative shown and by the performances that we see.  In short:  I am analyzing this trailer fresh and new only based on how it looks as a potential Saturday night engagement.  No foreknowledge to bias my judgement, I am looking simply at how this looks from the trailer itself.

It looks really good 🙂  I loved how it captures the dialogue, the moroseness of the characters, and the wonderfully complex story structure of a William Shakespeare story, while at the same time presenting the look and feel of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or something like The Kingdom and Lions for Lambs.  The intensity of the war scenes matched with the tension of the dramatic ones work beautifully together.  Obviously Ralph Fiennes and John Logan (writer) did their homework and have crafted something very intriguing.

What I remember capturing me so much when I watched this for the first time was the shock and curiosity I felt at discovering it was based on a Shakespeare work at the title card.  The editor of this trailer did an amazing job of minimizing the oddity which usually accompanies Shakespearian dialogue in modern context.  The lines are performed and then cut so well that I honestly didn’t notice that element at all until the end.  And while I love Shakespeare and his peculiarly phrased conversations, I would say that Coriolanus is setting itself to be one of the first modernizations of his work to nullify that quality and to present the Great Bard to the masses in a clear and understandable way (feel free to begin throwing tomatoes at your screen now). Definitely hats off to that editor, whomever he or she may be!

That having been said I wanted to point to a few odd lines that make the trailer most interesting. First of all, Gerard Butler sounds exactly the same as he did in 300.  While that makes him seem all bad-A and stuff, for me it seems like too much of a dip in the, for lack of a better term, High-Browed-ness of the film.  I know you have to market it to everyone from College Professors to people entirely ignorant of Shakespeare, but there is a line of how low you should stoop.  Second, Vanesa Redgrave (the mother) has a line right before the punch of the trailer – “And then men die.” This one is very odd but I think it works in reminding us of the narrative and writing styles the film has.  It is a little out of place but on the other hand it is freaking Kick-A!  Finally, “Make you a sword of me!” – simply put it doesn’t match the video and it doesn’t take frame by frame to notice it.  I caught it the first time I watched it and it really bothered me that they would try to fool us with a trick cut.  The only redeeming factor is that it only happens briefly but still this is the one major fault I found with the trailer itself.

Back to the good parts, the music was excellently utilized in the trailer.  It kicks off with the intensity and power of something like Gladiator.   It then does a great job of sitting in the background providing a pulse which keeps the tension up.  At 0:34 we get a small shift (and a big explosion).  It begins to build that sense of impending doom or betrayal – like Coriolanus is walking down death row.  Again the music drives forward the power of the moment until we get to some dialogue.

Let me also point out at this time how kick-A those title cards are!  They are short, powerful and do exactly what they need to do without being too much.  The “chiseled in rock” look was an excellent choice.  Back to the music, at 1:10 (“In the Arms of an Enemy”) again it shifts down to a quieter more tense tone.  We wonder if he will be accepted or if he will be torn to shreds, and at 1:19 we get our answer in the form of a shredding electric guitar.  From that magnificent line mentioned earlier (“And then men die.”) we get a beautiful ramp that builds and builds to the stunning climax and end on a surprise kick.  The music wonderfully meshes with the editing to make for a very gripping and exciting trailer.

All in all I thought this was one of the best trailers I have seen yet as far as technical mastery goes.  The editing was top notch, the story looks amazing, and the music is powerful – everything just came together very well.  If it wasn’t for that one botched line mismatch, I would call this darn near perfect.  It is an emotional powerhouse, a beautiful mash-up of Classical Narrative and Modern Stylings.  Ralph Fiennes has crafted something very intriguing and I look forward to it’s arrival in US theatres!

Overall Rating:  4.5//5

Yup!  There you go!  In case you were wondering, this film has already been released in overseas film festivals, but is still on it’s way to US theatres.  If you want to see their publicity page which has the festivals it is in and the ones it has already won, you can click out here to see that.

Next week I think I am going to be going for the new trailer for Brave – the latest installment of the Pixar Story.  I know that I and my friends are excited for it, and so I really want to look at the trailer to see whether that backs up our expectations.  Thanks for sticking around and please let me know what you think in the comments below!  See you next week on Art of the Trailer!

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About Tyler D. Welch

Filmmaker, Storyteller, Scholar View all posts by Tyler D. Welch

4 responses to “Voldemort meets Shakespeare!

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